One of the 8 identified intelligences is the NATURALIST one and I wonder if we really do a lot to develop this.

We are so zoned into word/maths intelligences with a slight nod to the other 6 but I often feel the NATURALIST intelligence is almost ignored- and yet it is SO important.

I parked in my gym car-park yesterday and stood watching a young Dad trying to get his two kids to stop watching the horses in the adjoining field. (We have a circus in town!)

The horses were really just standing around staring nonchalantly at the kids but the kids were transfixed. No amount of coaxing with promises of wave pools, ice-creams and the like would move these kids! Fortunately the father had the good sense to give up and join his sons as they stared in rapt wonder!

Watch kids with family pets- they so often seem to communicate in a way we simply cannot because we do not allow ourselves the freedom  to do this. One of our students recently asked me to join him staring down a drain at some worm-like creatures and forgetting how passing people might consider me- I joined him, laying flat out on my tummy and time seemed to stop. Later that night I remembered lying on the lawn at my parents’ house for hours watching ants and imagining I was in their world.

Last year, in an effort to increase the concentration span of children, I instituted a few creative activities where children had to choose a plant, flower or leaf from the ICE garden and faithfully sketch all the strange squiggles, colours and shapes they observed. You could have heard a pin drop for the entire activity and the results were pretty amazing. The kids wanted to talk about what they had discovered while sketching and we were able to generate great sentences with well chosen adjectives as we had this discussion.

It is ALWAYS worth bring nature into the classroom and sometimes taking kids outside to learn. We have an outside, shaded learning area now and I love reading stories to children under it, or letting children write outside. The results always speak for themselves!

No matter what the weather, there are always ways to help children connect with nature. Just a simple WONDER table for special “found” treasures will provoke curiosity and help improve expressive language. There are so many literacy and maths understandings that can be improved with a study of nature.

Symmetry, duration of life cycles, seasons, graphing growth, measuring, describing plants and animals, exploring narratives that have animals as main characters, writing poetry about beloved pets, imagining being back with the dinosaurs………. the list is endless!

I urge all parents, caregivers and educators to closely examine ways they can include these types of activities within learning experiences. You will have more peaceful kids who can concentrate, closely observe and feel happier about their learning! You may even heighten your own Naturalist intelligence!

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